Not Just a Dance


Photo Credit: Sienna Rock

Boise High’s 2021 homecoming dance at the Fort Boise baseball field.

Sienna Rock, Editor-in-Chief

What is homecoming? To most people, it might just be an opportunity to pick out a nice outfit, get their hair done, find a date, and have a good time. However, there is a long history to what exactly homecoming is and why we have it. Since day one, the dance has been filled with partying, parades, speeches, and more. Even though we might have a different idea of what exactly homecoming is, the tradition has been able to stay relevant for over a 100 years. 

The idea of “coming home” dates all the way back to the 1870’s. For the Harvard-Yale rival game, alumni from both schools were invited to come watch the game and return home. However, the first official homecoming celebrations weren’t held until the 1910’s. There are three schools that have argued over who held the first official game and dance: University of Missouri, Baylor University, and University of Illinois. 

It is believed that Baylor University held the first homecoming game and activities. However, they called it “Good Will Week” instead. The week consisted of parades, speeches, reunions, concerts, and most importantly, the football game and a formal dance. They held these celebrations to “catch the Baylor spirit again” and renew friendships. Another difference with Good Will Week was that it was held Thanksgiving weekend rather than earlier on in the year. Baylor’s coming home celebrations didn’t become annual until 1934, unlike University of Illinois, who started their tradition in 1910 and have kept it since then. 

University of Illinois started their homecomings as an experiment. The Illinois-Chicago rivalry game was coming up and two seniors decided to design an event for it to helpfully get the school out of their losing slump. The event turned out to be bigger than anyone expected and Illinois finally broke their losing streak. Over twelve thousand alumni members were there to watch the victory. 

University of Missouri has been coined the originator of homecoming by the NCAA, Jeopardy, and Trivia Pursuit. It started in 1911 with athletic director and coach Chester Brewer asking alumni members to “come home”. They had just built a new field and wanted the alumni to inaugurate it. Parades, parties, pep rallies and more were held to help celebrate. It all led up to the homecoming game against University of Kansas, their rivals. University of Missouri’s homecoming celebration set an example for colleges across the country and many followed in their footsteps. 

Homecoming is way more than just a dance. It’s a chance for former students to come back and reminisce about their time in college. It’s a time for people to get decked out in merchandise and cheer on their football team. It’s an opportunity to celebrate your school and show school spirit.